Have you thoughts about how customer experience trends will change next year? The team at Hotjar (a behavior and feedback tool built for marketing, design, and product teams focused on improving user experiences) did.

They recently asked 2,000 customer experience (CX) professionals about the state of their company’s customer experience strategies, methods, goals, and obstacles.

The big question was: “What are companies that are delivering an outstanding customer experience doing differently than everyone else?”

Hotjar compiled the data and created an in-depth study that covers:

  • The one thing customer experience leaders prioritize above everything else
  • The main drivers & methods they use to create and execute their CX strategies successfully
  • The biggest obstacles that keep them from achieving their CX goals (and what they’re doing to overcome those obstacles)
  • The #1 frustration customers face throughout their overall experience

We’ll explore a few excerpts of the study and learn what are successful companies doing differently as well as what you can do to improve your company’s customer experience.

What is customer experience (and why is it so important)?

Customer experience (CX) refers to a customer’s perception of their overall interactions with a company. Since customer expectations are higher than ever, customer experience has become a key driver of retention and acquisition.

CX is more than just customer service.

It includes every touchpoint a customer ever has with your company, whether it’s the moment they first hear about you in a blog post they found on Google, how easy (or difficult) it was for them to purchase from you, all the way through to the time they complain about you on Twitter (and don’t get a response).

As such, providing a great customer experience implies having a deep understanding of your customer personas and their journey.

Now that it’s easier for customers to take their business elsewhere than ever before. Therefore, your need to create and deliver an outstanding customer experience is not a nice-to-have: it’s a must-have.

In order to gain more meaningful insights into the results of this study, Hotjar had respondents categorize themselves into one of four levels: ignore, novice, competent, and mature. Categorizing companies in this way, they discovered the more mature CX leaders reported much higher revenues than their counterparts. Mature companies also have very clear priorities and trusted methods they rely on when it comes to executing a successful CX strategy.

The results clearly show CX leaders are doing things differently. From what they prioritize and how they view themselves to the methods they use to execute their strategy, Mature companies ‘get’ what other companies don’t.

For anyone who wants to retain their competitive advantage in 2019, these are the trends to pay attention to.

1. Customer experience leaders prioritize delivering an outstanding experience over everything else (yes, even over revenue)

Hands down, Mature companies are focused on delivering the most outstanding experience possible—more than any other goal, including increasing their bottom line.

2. Customer experience leaders focus on ‘old-school’ methods to execute their CX strategy

Companies with successful CX initiatives prioritize ‘old-school’ methods, such as talking directly and listening to their customers. They also have the best talent on board and do market research much more than their less-successful counterparts.

In fact, almost ⅔ of Mature companies rely on these on these methods as the top methods to successfully execute their CX strategy.

And they rely far less on ‘over-hyped’ methods such as chatbots, predictive analytics, and augmented reality than their less successful counterparts.

3. Customer feedback is the #1 driver of successful customer experience strategies

Not only is collecting direct customer feedback critical for companies to execute their strategy: feedback is also the building block for creating the strategy to begin with.

Almost half of Mature companies stated that customer feedback is the main driver of their overall CX strategy. That’s quite a contrast compared to Ignore companies, where only 1 in 5 companies does the same.

4. Lack of employee knowledge and training is the #1 obstacle keeping companies from achieving their CX goals

Across all maturity levels, lack of employee knowledge and training is the biggest obstacle that keeps companies from reaching their CX goals.

However, 1 in 3 Mature companies reported they don’t have any obstacles keeping them from achieving their CX goals.

That’s 5X higher than the number of Competent companies reporting the same, and 11X higher than Novice and Ignore companies.

5. Waiting for a response is the #1 thing that frustrates customers throughout their experience

It doesn’t matter how mature a company’s CX initiatives get—everyone struggles to respond to their customers in a timely manner.

Across the board, having to wait for a response from a company was the #1 frustration that customers have during their experience with it, with 1 in 5 respondents across all maturity levels selecting it as the top pick.

For a deeper dive into the study plus additional customer service tips to watch for in 2019, visit Hotjar’s full overview of the study.